The 2015 Landscape Restoration Award went to the City of Beckley for the Alfred Beckley Mill Project. Beckley City Council member and Raleigh County Historic Society President, Tom Sopher and Gary Morefield, President of the Raleigh County Cycle Club and active volunteer in building the trail system around the mill site and Piney Creek watershed accepted the award.
In 2013, National Park Service cultural resource agent, David Fuerst, produced an archaeological study of a mill site along Piney Creek in Raleigh County. His report found a connection between the mill site and Alfred Beckley the founder of Beckley, WV, his homestead, Wildwood House, as well as Greenwood Cemetery. Fuerst explained that there is an entire network of cultural resources and a history of Beckley that hasn’t been told yet. It is also a history of how people lived and how all of these sites are connected. Although, Fuerst published the report, he gives ownership of the idea to the late Beckley Historian, Jim Wood.
Adopting a true historic preservation ethos, The City of Beckley and the Beckley Historic Landmarks Commission jumped on the chance to learn more about the site and preserve it. They have adopted plans to place the mill in the National register of Historic Places and turn the mill area surrounding the Piney Creek Watershed into a public park. A road is being paved to the park and volunteers have been building trails around the grounds.
Research on the site continues. A core group of local historians including Tom Lemke, a Friends of Piney Creek member; Detlef Ulfers, Piney Creek Watershed member; and Tom Sopher, city councilman and member of the historical society, has continued to research the site to assist in its preservation.
Congratulations to all involved!